Posted: June 24th, 2012 | Author: Marian | Filed under: Elections, Government, Governmental Policies, Human Rights, Politics
“A dictatorship is evil and a democracy is the highest form of civilized government!” Something like that most people would say if asked to compare the two. But is that really true and aren’t there any disadvantages of a democracy or advantages of a dictatorship respectively?
Democracy has been defined as the government of the people, for the people, by the people (Lincoln, 1863). Such a government is formed through elections in which the adult citizens of a county cast vote to elect their representatives. Thus, in a way, the government is ruled by the citizens of the country. A dictatorship in contrast is that form of government in which there is centralization of power. All power rests in the hands of one single individual or within a single party. The people have no or only very limited say in the matters of government.
In order to evaluate a governmental form one should first think about the question what a government is for and what attributes can be used to assess its usefulness. What comes to mind first is that a government is actually not more than a tool to facilitate the will and to stand in for the rights of the people, thus the power should be with the people, e.g. in terms of freedom, liberty, equality and opportunities. In this respect the democracy is obviously the better system, because if the people are not in consent with the government, they can raise their voices through various platforms, such as the media, and make changes as drastic as new elections for a new government. However, success or failure of a democracy depends on the voter. If the voters are educated and enlightened, then only will they vote to elect capable men. If they are ignorant they will vote for undesirable persons. So a democracy must not lead to the best government and further minorities are in danger to be leaved out. In a dictatorship, however, the attempt to facilitate the will and to stand in for the rights of the people is even more in question, as the people in a dictatorship are expected just to follow and never to question.
Never the less in two other categories to evaluate a governmental form the democracy has to admit defeat against dictatorship. When it comes to stability of the government the dictatorship is ahead as there is no other alternative to the government in a dictatorship, combined with the people having no rights to choose their leaders, problems such as re-elections or people revolting against the government do seldom arise, if however then often this leads to violence as recent history proofed (Arab Spring). The next category in which a dictatorship is truly superior to democracy is efficiency. The decision-making process in a dictatorship lies with just one or a small group of people, thus not much time is wasted in debating over passing regulations, making amendments in law or coming to decisions in case of an emergency.
Considering these advantages dictatorship has quite some arguments to be better as a democracy, however, only if applied by the right group or person for a short period time or during special circumstances, e.g. during war. Nonetheless I guess most readers will share my personal preference of democracy as the more desirable goal of a government as it values the principles of human rights to a larger extent.
The Economist Intelligence Unit Democracy index map for 2011, with greener colors representing more democratic countries. Countries in dark red are clearly authoritarian (note: Burma has changed since 2011).